With a title as hungry for attention as “Strange Sex,” the temptation is to go for the cheap joke, such as “Oh, you mean sex with your spouse? (Rim-shot!)” But like HBO’s “Real Sex,” this TLC series — which originated as a special on Discovery Health, the network that will soon bear Oprah Winfrey’s name — is a fairly straightforward, non-sniggering look at unorthodox tastes, conditions and couplings, rather clinically told in half-hour installments. The strange part, in fact, is that the network of Kate Gosselin exercised this much restraint.
The only slightly crass part, actually, involves the episode titles, like “Unusual Orgasms” and “Cougars and Cubs.” The latter looks at May (or maybe March)-December romance, following 73-year-old Hattie — who has experience with many much-younger lovers — as she prepares for a date with 33-year-old Ron.
Additional stories center on a man with “sexual anorexia” and a woman who claims she can achieve orgasm without any physical contact — having transformed herself into a sex educator who teaches people to achieve it “without genital touch or stimulation,” or “think off.”
Interviewing the subjects as well as medical experts, the segments are handled in a journalistic, mostly nonjudgmental way (“atypical,” they’re called), even if the participants are clearly viewed as objects of curiosity.
As with “Real Sex,” there’s less glamor or titillation in these initial episodes than a desire to present the out-of-the-ordinary, in the way a “National Geographic” special might look at tree frogs. TLC has nevertheless scheduled the show at 10 p.m. with a conspicuous viewer-advisory disclaimer at the outset, which will probably leave those reeled in by the title more disappointed than anything else.
Granted, people with various fetishes and preferences might not relish being compared to tree frogs, but hey, if you don’t like it, think off.